How your accountancy firm can track its marketing spend properly.

marketing spendI have no doubt that your accountancy firm tracks its marketing spend closely.  Most likely, far too closely.  Perhaps you are looking very gravely at the grand total of £600 that you spent on marketing this month, and shaking your head in concern that you have not gotten a return immediately.

Yes, your marketing spend should have results over time – but one of the greatest challenges I have seen for marketing within an accounting firm is that marketing is one of those areas which is presumed to be, if not the lowest amount on the budget, definitely one of the lowest and decreasing all the time if a return is not immediately seen.

A quick story to illustrate my point.

One of our clients, an accounting firm I have known for well over ten years, recently mentioned that they are getting more leads than ever before. “Where are they coming from?” I naturally asked.  “You know,” the firm partner said, “I really can’t say – it’s as though we are just reaping the benefits of what we’ve been doing for months if not years, and it’s all just coming together.”  He went on to explain what they’d been doing in terms of a new website, a new email marketing system, getting on social media and using it, running seminars, attending more networking events, and more.  He said he could hardly pinpoint one single item as “the success”, but he was glad to invest in all of them together as it was having overall returns.  And the online marketing elements – the ones we are regularly encouraging accountancy firms to invest in – were definite contributors to his overall marketing success. How did he know all this? Because of the numbers.

For example, you may think that you’re getting more referrals than ever from existing clients – and perhaps you are.  But have you stopped to consider that your new efforts on Twitter and LinkedIn could have affected this?  Perhaps the emails you think no one is reading are having an impact without your even realising it?  I assure you this is often the case – and you are far better spreading at least your online marketing spend over multiple areas, rather than cutting off one here and adding another there every other month.

Is your tracking too instant?

Another trap you may be falling prey to is trying to track marketing results instantly (and by ‘instantly’ I mean ‘within the last 6-12 months’).  Yes, there are some things you can track right away. You can choose to invest in a Facebook advertising scheme, and learn whether your £20 resulted in 100 additional ‘likes’ on your page, or something of this nature.  But even then you may not be seeing all the facts properly.  Marketing is almost like a detective’s game – you must go beyond what is immediately obvious and delve below to the multifaceted reasons for a certain event.  What if, at the same time you invested in the Facebook advert, you were also posting more often and more regularly? There could be reasons why your £20 was well spent (or not so well spent) – but it’s far better to track it over a longer period of time, and ideally I would say that is 12 months. After all, this could mean that by the time you discover, perhaps from a casual comment of a few clients, that your original efforts on Twitter influenced them massively, it may be too late to recapture the months or years of effort you gave up on too quickly.

So, although it may go against the grain, part of tracking your accountancy firm’s marketing spend properly involves, not a smaller picture, but a larger one.  And of course, a detailed review of your marketing KPI’s – which we discussed last week.